Moses got a burning bush. In my case, the voice wasn’t in a burning bush. It wasn’t even a voice.
After hosting 20 exchange students, I was done. Done transporting, making food, listening to teenage issues, worrying, supporting their activities, parenting. Done. Retired.
One of our former students called. Would we host her best friend’s brother?
No. But, as an exchange program coordinator, I would find this young man a family.
Everybody I asked said no.
And my husband, the extrovert, had not been ready to quit at 20 students. That was my decision. Not his.
One day, during normal life, not in church, not at a special place where a person might go to connect with God, it happened. A change of mind. From “I will not do that” to “OK, I will.”
Some might say, “Who’s to say that was God? You just changed your mind.”
I know better, because I know me. And, in my ever-growing experience, I know God.
In Exodus 3, God appeared to Moses in a place he did not expect. It wasn’t in a holy place. It wasn’t on the Sabbath. It wasn’t during his morning devotions.
God appeared to Moses while he was at work, keeping watch over the flocks by day. It would not be the last time God appeared to shepherds with a greeting of peace and good will.
It would not be the last time God chose a nonreligious setting for a hearing of the word.
And it certainly was not the last time God invited an average person to do above-average things with and for the Lord.
Shifting points of view
This is a good time to remind ourselves that all Bible stories were passed on through oral traditions and written down much later. So the narrator knows the big picture and the outcome.
In this case, in a few short verses, we see the point of view shift between the narrator, Moses and God. The narrator tells the reader what Moses’ first perception is: a bush burning but not consumed.
This is different from the reader’s knowledge. We know it is a flame of fire in the midst of the bush, not the bush itself burning.
Verse 3 gives us Moses’ thoughts. Moses isn’t frightened, and he doesn’t know there is anything religious going on. He is just curious. God makes use of human curiosity.
Verse 4 is God’s point of view. When Moses comes into the sphere of this unusual sight, communication takes place. God calls his name, Moses answers, and God’s identity is revealed.
More than once, Moses says he isn’t up for this job. God reassures him that God will be with him, and all will be well.
There are enough examples of these calls in the biblical story to make it clear that God’s kingdom is ushered in through frail, average and often unwilling humans who may or may not have a clue what is going on. In spite of who we are — and because of who we are — God calls our name.
Carol Duerksen lives on a farm in central Kansas with her husband, Maynard Knepp, and a large assortment of critters. She is a freelance writer and editor and on staff of Springs Forth! Faith Formation Inc., which publishes multiage curriculum online. This column is excerpted from a Springs Forth! curriculum unit, “Nighttime Sleuthing and More!,” available at springsforth.com.